First day of the Labour leadership race proper



The initial joust by the 3 candidates on Native Affairs last week was a brief introduction and a entree served brilliantly by Mihi and the Native team, but it was TV3’s first ‘The Nation’ debate this morning that really heralded the beginning of the campaign proper. Sean Plunket grilled the 3 candidates mercilessly while later in the day the first debate in Levin occurred where Robertson made up for his earlier lame duck performance by tacking hard to the left.

The Nation was hard going. Grant was asked straight off the bat if he should be held responsible as Deputy for the failure of Shearer, Grant never really recovered from that.

Shane Jones was doing his best blue collar routine, if I was having a game of political bingo drinking shots every time Jones said ‘average kiwi’ – I’d have alcohol poisoning and a damaged liver.

Cunliffe said he would reach across the Caucus and reconnect with the Party adding ‘Free markets don’t always produce the best for working people’.

While Sean was throwing punches – Grant looked like a possum in headlights, Jones looking concerned over hard questions and Cunliffe ended up having to step in and save Jones at one point.

The most telling moment was when Sean asked what NZ Labour Politician would you most want to emulate? Robertson & Jones both replied ‘Norm Kirk’, Cunliffe stole the show by saying ‘Michael Savage’.

Sam Hill summed it up best…

TDB Recommends

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Then it was off to the first debate in Levin to a packed hall of 300. Jones has the blue collar shtick down pat now, his role is to take enough working class votes out of the 40% voting pool to make Grant’s chances of beating Cunliffe more likely so it was all regional development from him and bloke larrikinship.

In terms of Cunliffe, the tweets do the talking…

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…what was most fascinating however was Grant Robertson tacking to the left and trying to outflank Cunliffe

“It’s time to leave behind the dog-eat-dog free-market ideology.”

He said there would be no “neoliberal or third-way” agenda under a government led by him.

He also said he would lead a government that “actually respects democracy”.

“The time for talking about ourselves is over. We have one task – and that is to knock over this out-of-touch, crony-capitalist, rag tag party that is the National Party.”

He also backed earlier moves to introduce a man-ban in certain electorates saying, “the party I lead will be 50 per cent men, and 50 per cent women”.Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 4.24.58 PM

…Farrar ended up giving it to Robertson (no surprises there, beltway sticks with beltway), but it shows Team Robertson have realized the grassroots are far more left wing than the bureaucratic cautious temperance of Wellington Central and they are quickly adapting. This was a far better performance than his pretty dreadful stunned mullet TV interview earlier in the day.

Interestingly on social media, Robertson has only gone up about 70 likes since merging his Facebook pages where as Cunliffe has gained about 700 likes in the same period of time. It seems it will be up to the Unions to see if they will back a leader with populist appeal or the apparatchik candidate.

What we are seeing is a true post-Clark Labour Party being forged and it’s heart and soul is deeply ensconced to the left. Labour should feel proud that they have such depth of talent to compete at this high level.

The Labour Party will be better for this process.


  1. It’s good to see that all candidates (particularly David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson) do realise it’s time to ditch the neo-liberal agenda.

    The question is, will they follow through with it? Or is it all just campaign talk?

    • Of course it’s just “campaign talk”, in the end. Of course they can’t really follow through, no matter how much they might like to.
      The reason is..”Neo Liberal” is not just a passing ideology through NZ, it is FAR WIDER GLOBAL AGENDA!

      NZ has been affected , because NZ is another “prison nation”..
      NZ is “indebted”/enslaved to our Mortgagee. (thanks stupid politicians past, signing contracts they couldn’t/couldn’t be bothered to fully understand.Thanks for signing future generations to debt) Mortgagee gives orders/controls our politicians now. (Of course some like our own JK don’t mind/dont care, since lacking in principles anyway. Lies (-even better, today.)
      That is to say, that NZ is enslaved to/by DEBT (albeit , illusionary , since the entire International Banking System fraudulent/imaginary/fake..aka money/”debt” created as mere electronic statements with no substance behind them, -thus illusionary)

      Any GENIUS out there, with solutions on how NZ can break free?

  2. Yes will they follow through, that is THE question. They need to be pinned down by their members, made to do what they say they will do, not the usual bullshit, we didn’t realise quite the state of the nation so we won’t be able to do that, oops sorry!

  3. Far be it from me to be the thirteenth fairy at the christening, but during the previous leadership road-show, David Shearer also stepped into Cunliffe’s slipstream and tacked to the left. Then he won, and followed up with his roof-painter speech. Grant has had plenty of chance to reveal his left wing credentials over his past 20 months as deputy leader.

  4. A good summary, up to yesterday, I must say. And before I get to comment on the Labour leadership competition, just one thing: I am sickened to death by these supposed mainstream media “wannabe journos” pre-ejaculating these dumb “Twitter squirts” that are now stuff that so many base comments and opinions on. For f***s sake, is this the level political commentary has had to degenerate to?

    Anyway, this candidate competition between Robertson, Cunliffe and Jones is really very much a double edged sword campaign! It is good on one hand, as the “dumb” mainstream media do for once give the Labour Party and many of their ideas and proposed, and also likely policies a very high profile now. We get Labour and the candidates in the news, which was rare for months, if not a year or two! Suddenly the public can see and hear: Labour actually has some capable and potential leaders, some men (and certainly women also) with IDEAS, with sensible plans and policies!

    Now suddenly National’s ever smiling and walking away “Mr Teflon Hone Key” is hardly heard or noticed, for an overdue change. This is the really good side of this. The one worry with the media attention is, that this is presented like the future Labour leader will have a lot of say and influence on policy, which is only true to a very limited level. It will be others that will hammer out the direction and detailed policy, but the “dumb” MSM do of course not even realise this, as they nowadays are so “personality” focused, it does not even enter the brain spheres anymore. So we get almost US style interviews in front of cameras and the candidates challenged on certain topics.

    For all the true “lefties” though, be damned alert and mindful, and take note of what we have learned by now. I write this also after having seen the much better interview on Q+A on TV ONE today, with all 3 candidates answering questions. Also there was a useful Focus on Politics on Radio NZ National on Friday night, giving some insights.

    So learn the following, while there has been much talk about fairness, jobs, about the economy and Labour candidates all wanting things to get better for “ordinary” Kiwis, none of them will move too far away from the status quo, as they all just want a bit more state involvement in regional and other development. Yes, better realise this and accept this, and particularly Shane Jones sounds like he is mainly out to catch votes from National, and from those non voters, who are happy with big business investing in NZ, which admittedly will to some degree be needed and certainly continue, but we need to know how and under what conditions.

    Jones is also happy with mining and oil drilling, and he is not keen on having any government dependent on Green Party support. I even heard through some answers by him (possibly on The Nation) that he will possibly consider leaving Labour, should he not win and become Leader (check the answers he gave on leadership and his own ambitions). So he may join Winston perhaps?

    As for Cunliffe, he was a bit less convincing on some questions on Q+A, although overall he is still the best talker and presenter of direction. He emphasized his personal competency in business, and he only wants to have the state get involved in the market, where it does stop to function (well). Maybe his more left-leaning supporters take note?!

    Cunliffe still seems to be a good bet and probably the best one to challenge and beat Key, but do not expect him to lead Labour too far to the left, dear folks. More fairness and so yes, but he has said nothing on welfare, nor have the others. A higher minimum wage will be phased in, same as careful tax restructuring and increases for some.

    Today I felt Grant Robertson was most convincing on Q+A, and although I still have my doubts about him, he convinces me as the one best capable of uniting Labour, as he is not as grandiose and high reaching as Cunliffe, nor as openly “right” and business friendly as Jones. Jones will not appeal to many female voters by the way, while Robertson will struggle getting votes in South Auckland.

    What I mean is, there are many catches to either candidate, and one must be aware of this! Under none of the three Labour will move much, if anything to the left, they will just follow the new economic and social approaches now accepted widely in other western and developed countries, with moderate state interference. I am not thinking business is a dirty word, but think carefully, what and who you support.

    So I see this as a competition to get votes from Labour members, union members and nothing else. Nice things are said to get them, but that also will not necessarily be the things that will win the election. As for beneficiaries and working poor, what can be expected under any of the three will be rather “modest”, I fear, do not expect a “revolution” or anything similar.

    The truly poor and beneficiaries will probably be better catered for by Greens and Mana.

  5. How does Robertson intend to break from Rogernomics/Blairite third wayism when he’s ruled out intervening in the market?

  6. I wonder how many people in the country really know what neo-liberalism and Third Way actually are? They must see the effects though, so it is up to the politicians to connect the dots in both languages.

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